Project: Research council

Project Details


Unprecedented rate of urbanization constitutes substantial risks to the resilience of cities, with public health and welfare being the most critical concern. This includes the emergence of (non-)communicable disease epidemics due to environment contamination and lifestyle factors. To increase the sustainability of cities, there is a critical need for an early warning system (EWS) for public & environmental health diagnostics that operates on a large scale and in real time. Rapid urbanisation and the young, growing population of Africa are also linked with rapid digitisation and an unprecedented up-take of new technology. This presents a unique opportunity for the development of a digital technology-based, comprehensive and real time EWS that is attuned to public and environmental health risks in rapidly changing Africa. We propose to build a network aiming to develop a public & environmental health diagnostics and hazard forecasting platform in Africa via urban environment fingerprinting underpinned by digital innovation.

EDGE-I will develop a conceptual model (and a prototype in EDGE-II) of an environment fingerprinting platform for hazard forecasting and EWS using DIGITAL INNOVATION and state-of-the-art bioanalytical, socioeconomic, statistical & modelling tools. The digital innovation will be focused on the use of Internet of Things (IoT) enabled sensors and cloud computing as a plat-form for capturing, storing, processing, and presenting a wide range of environmental measures to a broad group of stakeholders.

EDGE will focus on two key thematic areas of critical importance to rapidly growing and urbanising Africa:
(1) Water, sanitation & public health: as a vector for infectious disease spread and environmental AMR.
(2) Urbanization & pollution: as a vector for environmental degradation and non-communicable disease.

EDGE postulates that the measurement of endo- and exogenous environment & human derived residues continuously and anonymously pooled by the receiving environment (sewage, rivers, soils and air), can provide near real-time dynamic information about the quantity and type of physical, biological or chemical stressor to which the surveyed system is exposed, and can profile the effects of this exposure. It can therefore provide anonymised, comprehensive and objective information on the health status of urban dwellers and surrounding environments in real time, as urban environment continuously pools anonymous urine, wastewater and runoff samples from thousands of urban dwellings.

EDGE-I will focus on building a concept of a prototype of EWS in two geographically and socioeconomically contrasting areas in Africa: Lagos (Nigeria), Cape Town (South Africa). The young and growing population of Africa that is rapidly up-taking digital innovation provides a unique opportunity for building a system underpinned by digital channels to provide long and lasting impacts. To achieve above EDGE-I will:
1 Develop a transdisciplinary and cross-sectoral network focussed on building EWS in Africa
2 Develop a conceptual model of an EWS in Afri-ca underpinned by digital innovation in techno-logical solutions and Citizen Science
3 Engage with stakeholders: from citizens, through government to digital tech industry
EDGE-I will catalyse the development of a large-scale research programme (EDGE-II).
Effective start/end date1/05/2030/04/21


  • UK Research & Innovation